Once You Start Down the Dark Path, Forever Will it Dominate Your Destiny: a First Look at Exclusive Merchandise
9/5/2012 8:26 AM
Although non-collectors would think of me as more than a little crazy, in the big wide world of Star Wars fans I am very much a casual collector. I only collect things from specific scenes – Jabba’s Palace, Hoth, and Endor are the bulk of it – and even then I only go after things that I really like and that are a) affordable on a meager income and b) can fit inside a studio apartment. No prop replicas, no costume pieces… the bulk of my collection nowadays is made from LEGOs, art prints, fan-made collectables, books, plushes, and some OPENED figures. You know, things that can fit on bookshelves. The most extravagant piece I own is the new LEGO Death Star and I’m waiting on piecing that together until I move again.
Going to Star Wars Celebration VI gave me two important “collector” experiences. The first one is that there is such a thing as “Sarlacc” (Seattle Area Lucasfilm Artifacts Collectors Club) and that I desperately want to be in it. The second is that I could never, ever be someone who has to have everything and go after exclusive collectables.
At CVI, the two most talked about exclusive items were a Hallmark Ornament piece and a LEGO piece. I honestly didn’t learn much about the Hallmark piece because it didn’t interest me, but I did really want the LEGO one. It was a tin with a Slave I and Boba Fett inside. I desperately wanted it to bring back as a gift to my boyfriend who didn’t get to come to Celebration with me (as he is a big LEGO and Boba Fett fan, it was pretty much perfect). Each morning at 10am when the Exhibitor’s Hall opened, LEGO would give away 250 tickets for their tins. This is what I did in attempt to get my grubby little hands on one:
Get up early and get to the convention center so you can get in line to get in ASAP.
Wait 3-5 hours in line until 10am when they let general con goers in (Jedi Knights and Jedi Masters were able to go in an hour early).
Once the line started moving, push and shove your way over to the LEGO booth where they were would already be a line formed for Slave I.
Watch in agony as people come and cut lines to meet up with their buddies to drastically increase the line in front of you AND are given MULTIPLE tickets. Walk away in disappointment once it’s announced at 10:10 that the tickets are all gone and that you can try again tomorrow.
Come back at around 4pm to line up for any leftover tins that people didn’t pick up (every ticket that was passed out for that day had to be claimed by 6pm). Wait for 2 hours. Miss panels (and queues for panels) that I love to see.
Watch in agony as people come and cut in lines to meet up with their buddies and change your spot in line from 25 to 75 and walk away in disappointment once it’s announced at 6:04pm that the leftovers have already been sold.
Repeat steps 1-6 on Friday and Saturday.
Repeat Steps 1-4 on Sunday except you CAN’T try again later.
Try not to scream in frustration when you see this “exclusive” tin up for sale at other booths in the hall and up on eBay early Thursday morning with 100% OR HIGHER markups (original price $40 USD).
That wasn’t the only thing that drove me bonkers, either. One of the panel rooms was a designated Collector’s room. It was a good sized panel room, probably seating about 200 people or more. After every panel an exclusive “Star Tot” would be handed out. Star Tots are these ADORABLE metal medallions of kid versions of people/aliens/droids. There were 5 different Star Tots handed out each day and it wasn’t known which Star Tot would go with which panel. For me, this was a nice little bonus! But for those gotta-have-everything-especially-exclusives collectors, this lowering a cow into a raptor’s cage. People would line up for over an hour in front of a panel room to get in. Then they’d have friends or family get in line for the NEXT panel because that was the only way you’d be able to get every Star Tot. And while you waited in line, folks would come up and down seeing if anyone wanted to trade or SELL to fill in gaps in their collection.
This ended up rubbing me all of the wrong ways for two big reasons: a) some folks who really wanted to see the panel BECAUSE OF THE CONTENT (but didn’t come line up more than an hour in advance) didn’t get in and b) people in the room who didn’t care about the panel and only the Star Tot were incredibly rude during the panel. They’d chit-chat and socialize across seats and rows. They’d get up and come back half a dozen times or leave the room for the bulk of the panel and come back just before it ends so they could still get their exclusive. During the Fan-Made Collectables Panel (something I am very passionate about), one of the panelists asked “so who here crafts?” and out of that big room only about 10 of us raised our hands.
Celebration VI was my first convention in which I really had to deal with this. I admit that I’ve never been to SDCC or Dragon-Con or other merchandise industry driven conventions, but I was seriously flabbergasted. I don’t mind waiting in line for merchandise. I don’t mind waking up early to get in said lines. I don’t mind waiting in line to go to a great panel or being turned away if the panel is full (Oh Mark Hamill, your panel line was full 2 hours before your actual panel time). But I DO mind people paying other people to wait in line for them so they can turn a huge profit on exclusive items. I DO mind not getting into a panel if it’s full of people who don’t care about the subject. My lawful good alignment gets all huffy at these tiny injustices.
Thankfully, I still came home with more than enough treasures and still had the opportunity to see enough amazing panels that my Celebration VI experience was fun enough that I’m excited to see when CVII will be announced.
I just won’t wait in line for LEGOs.